Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2015 Resolutions


2014 was great.  Here are some highlights:
Punta Cana in January.  AJ and I celebrated 7 years of marriage and Charlotte celebrated 3 years of life in February.  April was full of soccer and plantingMay I got to go to Miami with some CommonGround friends.  In August Wyatt turned 5, and we got some new cows and a bull.  September we got a vacation, and October our crop was harvested.  November I had a career change, and December was full of fun! 
Most years I make resolutions, but I keep them to myself.  Because then, when I FAIL, I'm the only one who feels bad!  Yes, I am one of the many statistics that make resolutions, and never keep them.  The only resolution I can ever remember making and succeeding in my life was to quit biting my nails.  I remember my Grandma buying me some nail polish that made your fingernails taste bad (Avon, anyone?).  However, I didn't think it tasted THAT bad :)  I remember my Grandpa telling me that when I bite and eat my nails, the nails go straight to my appendix.  So, I would need my appendix out sooner rather than later and it would be FILLED with gross nails.  I ended up quitting, and I still don't chew them (unless one breaks and I have to even it out...).

So, what makes resolutions successful?  My best guess is being held accountable.  I think that is what will help me with mine.  I don't have many resolutions, but I hope they make me the best version of myself.

I'm asking for your help.  I'm asking for my 'fans' to hold me accountable.  I'm asking for you to call me out when I make excuses.  I've never believed that by working alone you can achieve more.  Teamwork is the name of the game.

1.  15 pounds in 2015.  I don't feel TERRIBLE about myself, but I feel like at 31 I finally have to start doing something for my energy level.  I don't believe in diets.  I am going to try moderation and eating more fruits and veggies.

2.  15 books in 2015.  This doesn't seem too hard.  I really like books, it's just taking the time to relax and enjoy them.  I've started on one of my favorites, so I'm ahead of the game!

3.  15 good deeds in 2015.  Okay, okay, I hope I do WAY more than only 15 good deeds!  I also probably won't announce them on the blog because I don't believe a good deed is a good deed if someone finds out.  So, just remind me to do it :)

4.  15 new friends/acquaintances in 2015.  I have a new job, and with this new job I need to meet new people.  I'm going to be honest, new people scare the living daylights of me.  This isn't online.  This is IN PERSON.  Scary right? :)  Again, I probably won't announce it here (unless they really want me too :)). 

5.  15 minutes for prayer every day in 2015.  I pray.  But it's time I MAKE time for prayer again in my life.  God is my base, and in order to succeed, I need to be strengthened in my faith.

Lastly, I think everyday I need to resolve to be better at everything I do. 

Well, thanks for holding me accountable for my resolutions.  Here's to 2015!!!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Holiday Fun on the Farm!

I cannot believe that Christmas is here and 2014 is almost over!  We have had a busy month in December.

We started it off by making sure our Christmas lights were all set.  One of the joys of being on the farm is that we are able to put a star on top of our grain bins (about 40 feet or more high!).  The star is about 5 foot tall and looks pretty good (if I do say so myself!).  AJ welded the star together from some steel rods and and we wrapped it in lights.



AJ's brother and my brother both had babies!!!

I got the house decorated in my Christmas decor, and that always makes it feel warm and cozy.  Now, if I can keep it clean and cozy....

We got our Christmas tree at Deals Orchard in Jefferson.  We picked a beautiful tree and the kidswere a lot of help decorating this year.

I was able to have a cookie baking day with some friends, and we baked a boat load of treats!  We will be making this an annual event (at the very LEAST).

The weather has actually been somewhat mild throughout the month, so we were able to get some time in at the pasture.  I wanted to stay home but AJ told me it'd be fun.  He was right (yes, that is in writing, but please, don't take it out of context... ;)).

Charlotte had an open house for dance.

Wyatt had a Christmas concert.

I love the Christmas season!

We thank God for giving us his Son, so that we may count our blessings and watch them grow. 


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you! 

Harvest of 2014 is done on the Blair Farm.  We finished up on the 8th of November.  All in all, harvest went well for us.  It seemed long.  We started on the 29th-30th of September and were completely finished by the 8th of November.  Not too much different than last year (started on September 27 and finished on November 3rd)! 

It snowed shortly after harvest was complete, so we weren't able to do any strip-tillage.  Next spring, I'll share that process with you.  

Prior to the snow we did get some cornstalks baled for our cattle.

We moved cattle from the pasture onto cornstalks.  This was the field that had turnips and rye on it.  There wasn't a TON of cover crop there when we put the cattle on the stalks, but they still seem pretty happy!

The beef calves were sold (these were the calves that were in the pasture all year).  The kids got to skip out of daycare to go with Dad :)  

I won't share a picture of paperwork, because it's just not that fun!  

Have a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving!  
The Blairs


Saturday, November 1, 2014

Career Changes

This week was my last as an Agronomist for The Maschhoffs.  It was a very hard decision after almost 8 years!  I've had the best team to work with.  My last week of work with TML consisted of:

An open house for a new Production Partner.  It will never get old seeing great people like this start their future in agriculture.

My last team meeting.  Yes, it included Pizza Ranch and Guitar Hero.  BOOM.
My last inspections at sites.  The day ended with 5 pigs somehow escaping.  According to my iPhone, this day I put in the most steps. :)

I will miss that chapter, friends, colleagues, and partners.  

I am excited for the next adventure working with the Boone River Watershed in north-central Iowa as a Watershed Coordinator with the Iowa Soybean Association.  I, again, get to live out my passion for conservation and get to work again with great people.  

Decisions to leave are hard when you love what you do.  Thank you to everyone that have given me the opportunities to do what I love.  

Friday, October 3, 2014


We combined our first couple of fields of soybeans the other day (Sept. 29 & 30).  Now, we have over an inch and a half of rain and a high of 46 degrees today.  So, we will hopefully start up again once we get some drying weather!

Last year, we started harvest on September 27th and finished on November 3rd.  The start dates are pretty close, and we will have to see about the end dates! 

Friday, September 26, 2014

'Tis the Season for Cover Crops

I am excited to be more involved with cover crops this year.  This additional 'crop' that is planted in the fall, grows until frost and will either die over winter, or come back in the spring (depending on what you plant).  It will benefit our soil health by increasing our soil organic matter.  It will decrease erosion by keeping the soil covered (above ground) and the holding the soil in place with the roots (below ground).  The cover crops will also take up nutrients from the soil and hold them.  Those nutrients would otherwise be at risk of loss through erosion or leaching through groundwater in tile.  As the cover crops decay in the spring the nutrients become available for our corn or soybeans.

This will be our 5th year planting cover crops on our farm.  We are trying things a little differently this year.  The last 4 years we've planted by aerial application where a plane flies over the field and spreads the seed over standing crop.  This year we had someone with a high clearance sprayer drive into the field of standing crop, and plant the seed through tubes hanging down off the spray boom.  

Water quality is a hot topic in Iowa lately, and is the reason we are trying to incorporate cover crops on our farm.  It is ironic that in the last 4 years of planting the cover crop, we've had a hard time getting it established because it was too dry.  This year we've had a hard time getting it applied because it is too wet!

We still have a lot to learn about how to make them work, but we think they have potential.

Hagie application. 

Seed coming out of the tubes hitting the deflector plates to scatter.

The small lighter oval seeds are rye.  The round dark seeds are vetch.
Aerial Application (this was on a farm in the Boone River Watershed)
Aerial Application (this was on a farm in the Boone River Watershed).


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Family Vacation on the Family Farm

I feel like I'm ready for fall now that our family vacation is over.  It seems like it has prepped me for the hard work of harvest.

We were able to visit AJs brother out in the Black Hills of South Dakota for our family vacation.  The kids did great.  The drive was long, but they made it.  At each stop, we'd make the kids race each other to get some of the energy out.  It may have looked sort of silly, but I think it was necessary.  :) 

The weather was BEAUTIFUL.  We stayed in a waterpark hotel.  We got to visit a local park called Story Book Island, and the kids got to dress up like a pirate and princess.  We biked on the gorgeous Mickelson trail. And, we got to rest.  

Vacations are always difficult to prepare for and then to return back to work.  On the farm, it is no different.  The difference on our family farm is that family dynamic.  AJ's parents went on their vacation a few weeks before ours, and we did all the chores.  While we were on vacation, his parents stayed home and did all the chores.  All of us may not be working every single day on the farm, but we are all able to step in when it matters.  

Another challenge in that is that we don't always do a lot of things that we want to, either.  We have to make it work, and most often, we do.  We also ask family to do more work than we would any employees (including things like working holidays, weekends, etc.).  It may be tough, but it brings us closer together.  

And, after being away, it is GREAT to be Home Again Finnegan. :)

Excited for the trip!
Look closely.  You can see the kids in the waterslide!
Mickelson Trail

Princess and Pirate.


Thursday, September 18, 2014

Rounding up the Calves

Last night we weaned the calves from the pasture to our cattle barn. 
Round Up
Round Up
Round Up
Waiting for AJ to bring them to us.

Some came on their own.

This is Wyatt and Princess.  She is the nicest cow.

Mamma cleaning her baby.
Wyatt moving them along.

Made it to the corral.

Time to go in the trailer!

Made it to the barn.  Food is already gone! 

"Whatcha doin'?"

Fresh bedding.

Enjoying the beautiful fall day.

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Iowa State Fair

We had a beautiful day at the Iowa State Fair this year!  82 degrees and sunshine!

We had a lot of fun: 

Pigs ARE good for Iowa!

Listening to Governor Branstad.

Coloring at the Iowa Food and Family Project sand sculpture (very cool!)

My name on the ISU Alumni wall!

The giant slide (AJ and Wyatt coming down).

My (and the kids) favorite part was the "Little Hands on the Farm" exhibit.  It is a wonderful way to involve kids in where their food comes from.  It takes you from the farm to all the way to the grocery store.  You turn in your soybeans for soy biodiesel, and your other "commodities (corn, eggs, pork, milk, etc.)" for money.  Then you get to go to the store to buy something!  Super cool!  Each stop seemed realistic.  The feed was like what we actually feed our pigs and cows.  The photos were of what you might actually see on the farm.  Just by seeing and feeling those things - they now have a great start of what a real working farm might look like.

My kids see most of what we saw at the fair on a regular basis.  They know that the hamburger on our plate came from a cow on a farm.  They know that the bacon they eat came from a pig like we have in our barns.  They know that the vegetables on the table have been grown by a farm.  They already have an idea of the practices used every day to get that food on their plate.  

I wonder how new the "Little Hands on the Farm" exhibit is for other kids (and their parents)?  If it is new, will it spark an interest to find a farm and visit it?  To ask more questions?  I really hope it has!  

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Another trip around the sun!

Happy birthday to my dear Wyatt!  As my uncle would say another trip around the sun :).

Five years seems really old, yet it seems like only yesterday we were at the hospital.  I know it gets faster from here but I'm happy to say i'm in the moment!

He was able to give us a few more ideas on what he wanted for his birthday this year: 

A big black dump truck.

Taco pizza from Casey's for his favorite meal.

And Caterpillar tractor with the wagon for his cake!
All the credit for the cake go to his grandma and his dad.  I'm not that creative!

Happy birthday Wyatt.  We love you!